Deloitte study reveals companies’ strategies to move workforce across borders do not meet boardroom agendas 

In a globally connected world, companies both in the Middle East and across the globe are readdressing their mobility strategies.

In a globally connected world, companies both in the Middle East and across the globe are readdressing their mobility strategies.

ORGANISATIONS ARE aware of both the requirements and the current limitations of their global mobility programmes; however they are not translating that awareness into improvement and change, according to a new report by Deloitte.

This is based on the latest annual survey of almost 200 human resources, talent and global mobility professionals from companies around the world, entitled Strategic Moves. Findings in this study are particularly relevant to Middle East companies moving into regionalisation structures, and international markets to compete effectively in these new markets and succeed in attracting and deploying employees and leaders to meet their business objectives.

Next generation of leaders

Brett Walsh, Global Human Capital leader, DTTL, says: “The survey results show that organisations recognise the need for a global, mobile workforce to support their business strategies. However, despite a keen awareness of worldwide mobility issues, there is slow progress to make the relevant improvements. Where organisations are taking steps, they appear to be aligning their international mobility strategies with functional needs, rather than also focusing on developing the next generation of global leaders with international experience required to run the global organisations of the future.”

According to the report, a mere 2% of organisations see their global mobility functions as world class, and  only 12% perform assessments of their mobility practices and make clear links back to improvement efforts they need to make. The Deloitte survey also highlights that 70% of business and HR stakeholders believe that global mobility in their organisations is underperforming and needs improvement.

“As more and more companies expand their operations globally, and many companies based in the Middle East begin to operate across the region, the challenge to source the right talent and meet client needs is evidently growing. Many regional firms are seeking candidates with international experience to assume leadership posts in different industries,” said Maya Rafii Zaatari, director, Human Resources, Deloitte Middle East.

“In many Middle Eastern countries, particularly in the GCC, it is integral that strategies to improve global mobility are put into place, to ensure the right expertise is being offered to clients when needed,” she added.

Strategic business issues

Organisations recognise global mobility as an important tool to support the top strategic business issues and support the business in addressing the top three strategy issues: emerging geographical markets, such as the Middle East (100%), increasing globalisation (99%), and increasing competition (98%). However, on average, less than 30% are using mobility to completely address those issues.

“In a globally connected world, companies both in the Middle East and across the globe are readdressing their mobility strategies. In fact, one third of the organisations surveyed say they are planning on reviewing their global mobility strategies in the next 12 months, including reviewing the alignment with business issues and goals,” said Zaatari.

Survey respondents were asked whether they felt global mobility was a purely administrative function, a strategic value-add, or both. Those in business HR roles were most likely to see it as strategic (42%). However, in stark contrast, those tasked with high-level talent and reward responsibilities and the ability to elevate global mobility to the realm of strategy – were most likely to see it as just administrative (42%).

Need for service improvement

There is a widespread recognition of the need to improve the services that mobility teams provide; however the vast majority of organisations surveyed (88%) are undertaking only a limited assessment of the services that are currently being offered.

In order to align global mobility strategies with business’ issues and goals in the longer term, global mobility will need to support business more effectively by providing global workforce management, where they manage an organisation’s global supply and demand of skills and talent. This will require the mobility function to acquire new skills and capabilities.

Brett Walsh concludes: “If positioned appropriately, by adding global workforce management capabilities to its suite of services, global mobility can be the key player in solving an organisation’s long-term skill supply-and-demand talent gaps. This will require a departure from the current model and a strong vision of the future.

“Organisations need to make two types of investments in order to achieve this. Firstly, they need to invest in their wider functional HR capabilities such as integrated HR, talent and global mobility technologies to facilitate global standard reporting across various employee metrics. Secondly, this initial investment will then allow them to invest ahead of the talent demand curve to create the required supply of talent to meet their future organisation growth aspirations.”